Saturday, October 02, 2010

Day 10 | Madrid September 4

Our goal was to get up at a decent time, and wander around Madrid in the morning.  However, we both were feeling terrible, from a self-induced-too-much-wine illness.  That morning was rough for both of us, and took us quite a while to get up, showered and on the road.

Once we felt fit enough to leave the hotel, it was pretty late in the morning-practically lunch.  We also still weren't in top-notch shape to take on the day.  So we thought a ride on the double-decker bus would be a nice way to explore Madrid, without over exerting ourselves.

We'd seen the buses around the city, and knew we could get on at the main area, Puerta del Sol.  So we did  just that.  But we made an elementary-tourist-bus mistake.  You can hop on and off the bus all day with the ticket.  So we should have gone down a few blocks, and picked it up at the less crowded stop.  Instead we were waiting far too long in a line with a bunch of other tourists.  We will blame the oversight on the wine.

Finally we got on, but the bus was too full, so we were on the bottom.  After a few stops, we ran up to the top and took our seats.  The bus provided headphones, and had jacks to listen to commentary.  Ryan's wasn't working, but we had our headphone splitter with us (so we don't have to buy 2 headsets everywhere) so we were finally ready to learn about Madrid.

The bus went all over, but stopped a lot.  Here are a few shots from the tour:

Ryan thought this was sooo funny.

One of the lengthy stops we made was at the Prado Museum.  We were going to spend most of the latter part of the day there, so we got off at this stop.  Since the bus lingers here, many people had thrown their headphones in the nearby tree.  It was kind of funny.

Once off, I was craving greasy food, so we stopped at our favorite local joint- McDonald's.  Ha. (I am sure you all think we only ate at Starbucks and McDonald's- I can assure you we also enjoyed many local meals as well.)

It hit the spot, soaked up the rest of the wine, and we were ready to conquer the Prado Museum.

The Prado Museum is huge, has about 3,000 canvases and a buzzillion rooms.  We tried to use our Student IDs here, but they asked for our IDs as well, saw we were 25, and said No.  Guess we aren't as young as we once were, sigh.  After we paid full price, complained about the price, then entered the museum we picked up one guide, linked arms and were on our way.

The Prado is smart, and created a if-you-don't-know-much-about-art-but-want-to-see-the-famous-pieces guide.  It was great, we knew which rooms to hit, which to pass by, and it made our trip much more enjoyable. We also stopped at a few pieces that piqued our interest as we walked by.

Our favorite piece was Velazquez's Las Meninas.  If you been following our trip, you'll remember we saw Picasso's take on this painting in  Barcelona (you can read it here).

Ryan also loved Goya's Saturno.

After a fun tour, we left the Prado.  Here are some shots of the exterior.

Following the Prado, we wandered around the area near the museum.  We were going to go into the Royal Botanical Gardens- but it cost money.  We weren't really interested in paying for that, so we went on our way.

Velazquez statue

expensive gardens = lamesauce
We walked back to our hotel area, stopping along the way into shops and such when we saw something we were curious about.  We also went back to the market to get gazpacho, since it was so yummy from the day before.

Crazy big Starbucks for Ryan's con hielo cafe

Gazpacho in a cup. yummy!

After our exploring of Madrid, we went back to the hotel to get ready for our flamenco show!  We were so excited for this.  We had found one that seemed to be more low-key, less touristy called Las Tablas.  Our tickets also included a drink- so we thought we got a good deal.  The place was off the beaten path and above a restaurant, very urban-artsy vibe.

The stage was bare, expect for a few seats (from Ikea I might add).  The show consisted of two guitar players, two singers and a male and female dancer.  They were amazing.  The speed that the dancers could move their feet was incredible.  The show was full of such great energy, and we loved how they shouted, snapped and clapped their hands the entire performance.  Here is a video from Las Tablas, but not from the night we were there.

The show was about 75 minutes, and was everything that we expected.  Since the place was dark, we weren't able to get great photos.

After the show, we headed back to our hotel to finish off some of the food we had the night before.  We crashed after a long day, hoping to wake up in a more timely fashion the next day.

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